Enumclaw mayor delivers ‘State of the City’ address

Jan Molinaro said the city is in a good financial position, but there could be a recession over the horizon.

The current “state of the city” – a look at 2020 plans following a quick review of 2019 accomplishments – was offered by Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro.

The mayor’s 34-minute presentation, delivered Feb. 18 before a small audience, was streamed live on ECTV and is available for viewing on the city website, cityofenumclaw.net.

As Enumclaw’s chief spokesman and primary booster, Molinaro declared the city “continues to function in an incredibly efficient fashion.”

He cautioned, however, that 2020 could bring a slowdown in the economy with a resulting decrease in city coffers. City Hall will keep an eye on fluctuations during the next 12 to 18 months, Molinaro said, and make financial adjustments as necessary.

The overall slowdown was reflected by numbers coming out of the city’s Department of Community Development. Molinaro shared that 446 building permits were processed in 2019, a 15-percent decline from the year prior, and there were 419 business licenses applications filed, down from 508 in 2018.

While that trend may not bode well for any jurisdiction, Molinaro said he was happy with Enumclaw’s present position. For now, he said, “I’m pleased to say that the city is healthy with both revenue and reserves.”

During the coming 10 months, Enumclaw’s various departments will be overseeing a variety of projects throughout the city, Molinaro said. He noted the following:

• several key streets will be torn up and then improved. Already started is an extensive project on Railroad Street that will bring a new surface along with new curbs and sidewalks; the summer months will see Cole Street resurfaced between Stevenson and Roosevelt avenues;

• the city-owned swimming pool will likely be closed the entire month of August, the mayor said, as some much-needed improvements are completed;

• City Hall is in need of work and the historic building’s exterior needs will be addressed, the mayor said, noting that the work was planned for last year but delayed in favor of other projects;

• also on the city agenda are an upgraded surveillance system in the city jail, an expansion of the summer series of outdoor concerts, new natural gas meters for city customers and upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant.

Before he detailed some of the city’s 2020 plans, Molinaro reviewed the year gone by. Reviewing each of the city’s department, he noted that “each had challenges and each had successes.”

The city’s various utilities provided an example of that scenario. Due to an adequate rate structure and healthy reserves, the city was able to head off rate increases in natural gas, water, sewer and solid waste. On the down side, the still-new stormwater utility didn’t perform as expected, prompting a rate increase this year.

“Expenses were underestimated when the utility was initially created,” Molinaro said, and the result is another $1.26 added each month to every household’s utility bill. Commercial operations, with bigger buildings and paved parking lots, are seeing larger increases.

Within the ranks of city administration, the past year brought a lease with a new golf course operator and a 50-year lease with the Enumclaw Fire Department for its headquarters building on Wells Street. Additionally, negotiations are continuing with the Enumclaw School District, which owns the land under the city swimming pool.

Here’s a look at other departments, with details provided by the mayor:

Enumclaw Police Department: a major initiative that began with the dawn of 2019 was the placement of a school resource officer at Enumclaw High School who also responds to both of the district’s middle schools. The cost is split evenly between the city and the Enumclaw School District.

Parks and Recreation: this year will bring new playground equipment to McFarland Park and improvements to eight other playgrounds. Baseball and softball was well served, Molinaro said, with “fields booked solid from April through October.” He added that 680 games were played last year at the Boise Creek Simplex.

Enumclaw Expo Center: the 72-acre facility, which became city property in 2006, boasted new fencing of the rodeo arena and painting of both the administration and activity halls. Additionally, 2019 brought grant money that will pay for roof repairs to the exhibit hall, a project that will be tackled this year.

Information and Media Services: the small department oversaw the addition of two large video screens in council chambers at City Hall, as well as upgrades to the sound system at the Enumclaw Senior Center.

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